I have previously given you the scripts (which include menus and recipes) from the series of radio program sponsored by the US Department of Agriculture and US Bureau of Home Economics in the 1920’s and 1930’s. So far we have had the dinners recommended for April Fool’s Day in 1929, and Easter in 1932 - let us now see what was suggested for the Fourth of July in 1929.
The glorious Fourth is about to roll around again and we’re bound to have company, sure as shootin'. Company means a specially nice dinner, of course.
I asked the Menu Specialist what she'd suggest for dinner tomorrow, if she were expecting guests.
"I am expecting guests," said she, "and I am going to have chicken, as the main dish. Besides chicken, I'm serving new potatoes, and peas, and Swiss Shard, and Fruit Lemonade, and — well, what shall I have for dessert, Aunt Sammy?"
"Watermelon. There's no choice, when you can get watermelon."
"Watermelon it is," said my friend. "Any more suggestions?"
"We must have a centerpiece — are there any attractive combinations of red and white and blue flowers?"
"Yes," said the Menu Specialist. "I planned my centerpiece, "before I planned the menu — "blue cornflowers, red poppies, and daisies. Won't that lend a patriotic touch to the table? And, if I I can't get cornflowers, poppies, and daisies, there's another combination — delphinium, red sweet peas, and the white flower known as baby's breath. There are many other appropriate bouquets, which might grace the table on the glorious Fourth."
How, if you'll take your pencils and notebooks, we'll get through this dinner in a hurry. Would that it were as easy to prepare a meal, as it is to talk about it!
Let's write the menu, first: Smothered Chicken; New Potatoes; Peas; Swiss Chard; Fruit Lemonade; and Watermelon. Does that please you, ladies and gentlemen of the radio audience? Of course, if you like, you might serve a fruit curd, or fruit cocktail, to begin the dinner. Cherrie and peaches, or raspberries and peaches would be appropriate for the fruit lemonade; it will taste better if there is a sprig of mint emerging from the top of the glass.
I shall give you directions, for cooking the Smothered Chicken. If you have never served this dish, I think you'll be glad to add it to your meat dishes. Only five ingredients, for Smothered Chicken:
1 broiler chicken weighing about 2 to 2-1/2 pounds
4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
½ teaspoon salt, and
1 pint milk
Five ingredients, for Smothered Chicken: (Repeat).
Put the chicken in a greased shallow pan, with the skin side down, and sprinkle lightly with salt. Prepare a sauce of the butter, flour, salt, and milk. Pour this sauce over the chicken. Put the pan into a moderate oven and cook for 1 hour. Turn the chicken and continue the cooking for one-half hour longer or until the chicken is tender and lightly browned. Serve from the dish in which cooked, garnished with chopped parsley. If the gravy is slightly curdled remove the chicken, add a little flour and milk, stir until well "blended and smooth, add the chicken, reheat, and serve.
Is everybody familiar with Swiss Chard? Swiss Chard belongs to the same family as beets, but the edible part is all in the leaves and fleshy leaf stalks, or midribs, as a botanist would call them. Since these stalks require longer cooking than the leafy part, strip them out from the rest, cut the stalks in inch-long pieces, and cook for 10 minutes in boiling, unsalted water. Then add the green leaves and cook for a few minutes longer until both are tender. Drain, season with melted butter, pepper, and salt. Serve with vinegar or lemon juice and hard-cooked eggs or chopped, crisp bacon.
There — our dinner recipes are concluded. Don't forget the red, white, and blue bouquet, for the center of the table, and don't forget the sprig of mint for the fruit lemonade.
To repeat the menu; Smothered Chicken, or Chicken a la Desdemona; New Potatoes; Peas; Swiss Chard; Fruit Lemonade; and Watermelon.
[omitted: a section on the management of poison ivy]
Friday we shall talk about jelly-making. I think I'll get the Recipe Lady to give us some facts on jelly. She's been working on it this week.